The parents of a young man who committed suicide are suing the archdiocese of the Catholic priest who spent much of the funeral condemning suicide and suggesting that the man might go to hell, USA Today reports.
Maison Hullibarger took his own life in 2018. In arranging his funeral, his grieving parents asked the Rev. Don LaCuesta to perform the rite. The couple specifically asked LaCuesta not to mention the young man's suicide, and indeed, they were clear that they wanted the ceremony to be a "positive and uplifting" celebration of the man's life.
However, as previously reported by The Inquisitr, LaCuesta ignored the parents' instructions and instead turned the funeral homily into a treatise on the Catholic Church's teachings on suicide, which the Church regards as a sin.
"He was up there condemning our son, pretty much calling him a sinner. He wondered if he had repented enough to make it to heaven. He said 'suicide' upwards of six times," Jeff Hullibarger said.
So upsetting was the homily that some people reportedly left the funeral sobbing. Jeff says that he even approached the priest and asked him to stop, but the clergyman, who reportedly had a "smirk" on his face, kept preaching about suicides and hell.
"No parent, no sibling, no family member, should ever, ever have to sit through what we sat through. When you're already beyond devastated, why would you make it even worse?" Linda Hullibarger said in a statement issued through the family's attorney.
The family has now filed a lawsuit against the Archdiocese of Detroit, which has authority over LaCuesta, alleging that the priest's actions contributed to their already intense suffering. According to CBS News, the suit is intended to "hold Father LaCuesta, Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Parish, and The Archdiocese of Detroit accountable" for LaCuesta's actions, as well as to prevent "further harm to the parish and local community."
What specific damages, if any, the family is seeking remains unclear, as of this writing.
The Archdiocese of Detroit declined to comment, citing the fact that this is pending litigation.
The archdiocese has already taken some punitive steps towards LaCuesta. He has been forbidden from performing any more funerals and all of his homilies must now be pre-approved.
For centuries, the Catholic Church taught that suicide was a grave sin and even refused to allow those who committed suicide to be buried in Catholic cemeteries. Now, however, the church teaches, via the Catechism of the Catholic Church as decreed by the Vatican, that suicide is still contrary to God's commands, but that "God can provide the opportunity for salutary repentance" of suicides.
If you or someone you know is in crisis, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or contact the Crisis Text Line by texting TALK to 741741. For readers outside the U.S., visit Suicide.org or Befrienders Worldwide for international resources you can use to find help.